Shortly after the cast announcements for Legally Blonde, we had an opportunity to speak directly to cast members Lucy Durack and Rob Mills and also to spend some time with Producer John Frost. Here is what they had to say:
LUCY DURACK (plays ELLE WOODS)
Congratulations Lucy on scoring yet another amazing role in Australian Musical Theatre!
“Thank you I am so excited!”
How much of Elle Woods is in Lucy Durack?
“A lot!! It’s definitely going to be a blurry line between where Lucy stops and Elle begins; probably even more so than when I played ‘Glinda’ in Wicked! The role is extremely close to home in some ways. I actually started a law degree myself, and and I have a little dog – not a Chihuahua but a cute little dog. I do believe the true message of the story is to stay true to yourself in a positive way, and that’s what Elle does against all odds. She does stay true to herself and that’s a really nice message which I think will relate well to audiences. It is the most fun show I’ve ever seen.”
How do you feel Australian audiences receive Legally Blonde the Musical?
“I think Legally Blonde makes fun of itself in a charming way and I think that will give it a head start with Australian audiences. It’s a real story of a bit of a battler! Despite the fact that Elle looks glamorous, she battles to be taken seriously so I think Australian audiences will relate to that ‘battler’ mentality. She gets knocked and gets back up again. It’s a very empowering story: a feel good show! It’s not just fluff and bubbles; it actually has a huge heart to it as well!”
What advice do you have for young girls aspiring to enter the industry and Musical Theatre in particular?
“If you’ve got it in your heart it’s 100% possible. I came from a family that had nothing to do with Performing Arts and I’ve had to find my own way here to the stage and I’ve had to persevere. Persistence is KEY! Keep persevering in a positive way. The industry is relatively small so make sure you remain a nice, a good person and at the end of the day that’s important for so many people. Keep working hard and figuring out exactly what you want to do. If you can concentrate on and harness what you’re wanting to work towards that’s really important.”
What was your path – how did you start?
“I did Musicals at High School and then I went to WAAPA. I was extremely fortunate living in Perth with WAAPA on my doorstep – I got cast in Mama Mia whilst I was in my final year and WAAPA – then after Mama Mia, I thought I had to ‘get a real job’ and that’s when I went back and started a law degree at Uni. I only did one semester! I then deferred but it was interesting, I loved the people, but I was miserable! I was just missing performing I guess. I realised then and there that if I was going to make a go of this performing ‘thing’ now was probably the best time to do it. I do believe though that you’re never too old, it’s never too late, it’s never too hard to change your life! If it’s something you want to do in your heart keep moving forward!!”
ROB MILLS (plays WARNER)
Congratulations on your role as Warner in Legally Blonde!
“Wow, thanks, this is like a Dream role”
So you danced when you were younger?
“No, Dancing is really new to me – I have always really loved musicals – I grew up with Disney movies, loved the Sound of Music, Mary Poppins – love the song and dance. My mum’s right into singing and my dad’s hugely musical – me and my brothers have always been passionate about music. After seeing all the shows on West End in 2006 I was like ‘yes’ this is it – I felt like I was home.”
Would you say you have ‘found your tribe’?
“Yes and it is a tribe – it is a family environment. The whole musical theater community has embraced me as part of their own and been very supportive – this is warm and what better environment to be around when you’re new to it”
How are you going to cope with doing two high profile shows at once?
“I am always better when I am working harder – more focused – I really love the routine! I loved doing Wicked and we will work it out as we go along. By the time this starts I should be in such a groove with Young Talent Time that I think I will be fine.”
And what will Rob Mills bring to the character of Warner?
“I will have to act a lot because I actually thought that I would be a better fit for ‘Emmet’ – not better than David – but when I auditioned I went in for Emmet. I was surprised to be called back for Warner – I think I’m a bit of a dorky guy! I don’t know I suppose he’s a bit smart but a bit stupid … he comes from a wealthy background which I certainly did not. It’s going to be fun to play the private school boy that I used to see at the train station, so I’ve got a bit to draw on…”
So what advice do you have for our DanceLife readers that may want to move into Musical Theatre in the Future?
“Just Start! I feel bad that I started so late, my dancing probably isn’t as good as it could be!”
Was it a bit of fear that stopped you from pursuing your dreams?
“Absolutely! When I was younger I turned down a position in the international boys choir even so I could go and play footy with my mates! But dancing is cool – Young Talent Time is proving that and all the shows like Glee. They are proving how cool dancing is for guys and girls. My advice is to just start! If you love it, just do it: you’ve got such a great support of people around you! And if the people you’re hanging out with don’t support it then maybe they’re not really your mates!”
JOHN FROST – PRODUCER
John It’s fantastic to see so many great Musicals coming to Australia! You are producing many of them, so how do you see the future of Musical Theatre in our country right now?
“I think we are going through a really exciting time and I say that because there is so much on, so much coming! There is now a push to build new theatres around the country too, which is exciting, although the Lyric Theatre is a great venue! I think that people are finding the money, they want to be entertained, they want to have a good time. They won’t go and see every show that’s on but they will save up for the special shows they want to see.”
There seems to be a lot of great quality shows coming out at the moment!
“Yes there is a lot coming up! I’ve produced Annie and I’m producing an Officer and a Gentleman and Legally Blonde. We are also working on workshops for some new Musicals such as Dreamlover which is the Bobby Darin story – he was a rock star in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. I’m also looking at another 3 or 4 shows I am going to do next year. The toughest thing is finding theatre dates around the country. It’s very hard to just do a show when you can’t tour it. You can’t just do a season in Sydney and then not go to Melbourne or Brisbane. You really need a minimum three-city tour to make it worthwhile financially and for the investors to get their money back so that’s the hardest thing we are facing right now.”
How have you found the level of talent auditioning for Musicals you are producing right now in comparison to say 10 years ago?
“Oh goodness yes! Australian performers have always had a great work ethic. I think the American work ethic on Broadway is fantastic and I think that we come next. But if you look back over the past decade, people are now being trained differently and a lot better, and musicals are changing too. Now with return of shows like Dr Zhivago, you have to have a great voice, and then of course you get A Chorus Line come out again from nowhere and we all know it’s about great dancing and Legally Blonde is about great dancing and putting it out there and selling yourself. Even with auditions around the country for Annie we can see there’s a different work ethic being taught to the kids – it’s very encouraging and positive!”
Do you have any words of advice for the up and coming Musical Theatre talent? Is there anything missing that Aussie hopefuls could do better?
“I always encourage people in this industry to travel. Go to London and New York and see both how it’s done well and badly – it will give you a life experience to see that. Then come back here and share that information with friends, colleagues and audiences. Travel, go to Broadway and the West End – be open and learn and BE INSPIRED!!”